Testing Times

So the inevitable happened recently, the brown envelope came through the letter box, inviting me to attend a standards check.

I like this phrase, “you have been invited”, as for me, it takes the sting out of the fact that it is, essentially, a test.


I then proceeded to do the same as many of us, in leaving the letter in the drawer, in the kitchen for a week, occasionally taking it out, with the intention of acting upon it, accepting the offer and setting time aside in my diary to plan for it and after choosing which pupil to take and the route and lesson to conduct, I then spent a very informative morning in the company of Graham Campbell, from adiHELP


Here I am then all honed on what I need to do to gain an A grade, fully understanding, thanks to Graham, what is expected of me on my big day.

This got me thinking on, what is expected from the SC examiner ?

So after a bit of digging, here are the guidelines that your examiner has to adhere to:

Format of the standards check

The examiner must conduct all standards checks in English or Welsh observing the ADI delivering a normal 1 hour lesson with a pupil.

Assessing the ADI’s delivery of instruction to their pupil based on the criteria set out in the SC1 standards check reporting form and the ‘National standard for driver and rider training’.

Sample SC1 Form

ADI preparation for the standards check

The pupil can accompany the ADI to the waiting room at the DTC.

If the pupil decides to wait in the car, you should encourage the ADI to introduce the pupil to you in a relaxed way.

They should tell their pupil to behave exactly as they would normally. Some find that it helps to put their pupil at ease if they explain:

  • that the examiner is there to check the ADI is doing their job
  • to make sure that the quality of instruction they get meets the minimum standards

The ADI should prepare a normal lesson, with their pupil, based on the student’s learning needs or agreed development strategy.

The theme for the lesson may be one of those listed on the SC1 form, but it may well be something else. In that case the examiner should record what the theme was in the ‘other’ box.

Before the lesson starts, the examiner will ask the ADI some questions about their pupil.

The ADI should be able to tell you:

  • roughly how many hours of tuition their pupil has had
  • whether their pupil is getting any other practice, e.g. from parents or others
  • their pupil’s strengths and areas for development

The ADI can show you the pupil’s driver’s record (if they have one) before the start of the lesson to help explain their current progress in their agreed training programme.

The ADI must display a valid ADI certificate when they attend their standards check if they’re charging the pupil. They don’t need to display their certificate if they’re not charging the pupil.

The examiner must ask to see the certificate if it’s not displayed. You must not continue with the standards check if they can’t show you their valid ADI certificate.

The examiner can make notes during the lesson to help you identify locations that may not be familiar to you. You should destroy the notes as soon as possible after the standards check is complete. The only record of the standards check will be the completed report form.

Other people present

The examiner may be accompanied by a senior examiner to quality assure your assessment. Whenever possible, the examiner will tell the ADI in advance when this is going to happen. If the examiner couldn’t tell the ADI before the assessment, 5 minutes will be allowed for the ADI to explain to the pupil what’s happening. The lesson can include (if the ADI wishes) driving to the nearest garage or tyre centre to inflate the car’s tyres to the recommended pressures for a heavier load.

The ADI can be accompanied by their trainer/mentor, but that person can’t take part in the standards check lesson in any way.

If a trainer or mentor intends to accompany the ADI and the standards check is also planned for supervision, the supervising examiner will decide whether or not the supervision goes ahead.


At the start of the standards check

When the ADI arrives at the test centre, the examiner will confirm their identity and complete the necessary paperwork.

The standards check requires the ADI to show their competence against all the criteria on the assessment form. The examiner should make sure the ADI understands what they are required to do, for example by asking:

Do you have any questions about the standards check before we start?

The examiner should  then ask about the pupil’s background and how much experience they’ve had. For example, they may say:

“Can you tell me how many lessons your pupil has had and what you have been covering recently”?

When  satisfied they have the information required and that the ADI understands what’s going to happen, the examiner will ask them to continue with the lesson, for example by saying:

“Thank you, [insert ADI name,] carry on with this lesson in your normal way. I won’t take any part in the lesson and would you plan your lesson to be back here in 1 hour from now”.

At the beginning of a standards check an ADI should, normally, discuss the lesson plan and agree it with the pupil. Where the ADI has had little or no experience of working with the pupil they can suggest an assessment drive before finalising a lesson plan. However, the ADI should make sure enough time is available for development and feedback during the lesson.

The standards check will last for 1 hour and the ADI should allow a minimum of 15 minutes at the end of the lesson for a debrief with the examiner.


At the end of the ADI standards check

Once the ADI has finished any reflective discussion with their pupil, the examiner will inform the ADI that the test has finished, for example by saying:

“Thank you [insert ADI name] I now need to complete my paperwork. This will take me about 10 minutes. I’ll come and find you and give you some feedback on what I’ve seen. You’re both welcome to wait in the waiting room.”

The examiner should not debrief the ADI with the pupil present. However, the ADI may request that a third-party, such as their mentor, is present for the feedback. It should be noted that the third-party may act as an observer but not take part in the discussion.


Completing the assessment

The assessment is made against 3 broad or ‘high’ areas of competence:

  • lesson planning
  • risk management
  • teaching and learning strategies

The test marking sheet is at sample SC1 standards check reporting form. The 3 high areas of competence are broken down further into 17 lower level competences and a mark will be given for each of these lower level competences. These marks will be totalled to give an overall mark and they will also provide a profile of the areas where the ADI is strong and where they need to do some more development work.

Marks will be given as follows:

  • no evidence of competence = 0
  • a few elements of competence demonstrated = 1
  • competence demonstrated in most elements = 2
  • competence demonstrated in all elements = 3

The key thing to understand is that the lower level competences, on the form, can themselves be broken down into elements. The ADI will have to use a range of skills to ensure each of these elements is in place.

For example, the first lower level competence, in the lesson planning section, is ‘Did the ADI identify the pupil’s learning goals and needs?’

To fully satisfy this requirement the ADI must:

  • actively recognise the need to understand the pupil’s experience and background
  • ask suitable questions
  • encourage the pupil to talk about their goals, concerns etc. and actively listen to what the pupil has to say
  • understand the significance of what they say
  • recognise other indications, e.g. body language, that the pupil is trying to express something but perhaps cannot find the right words

These are what we mean by the elements. Another way to express it would be to think of these as the building blocks which go to make up the lower level competence which is being assessed. For further explanation go the section ‘Interpreting the assessment criteria’


Competence standards examples

An ADI who makes no attempt to understand their pupil’s needs would be demonstrating no evidence of competence and be marked 0.

An ADI who makes an attempt, asks a few questions, but doesn’t really listen and then goes ahead and does what they intended to do regardless, would be demonstrating a few elements of competence and would be marked 1.

An ADI who grasps the importance of understanding the pupil’s needs and makes a real effort to do so, but who finds it difficult to frame suitable questions, would be demonstrating competence in most elements and would be marked 2.

Competence development

Another way to look at this is from a developmental point of view. If the examiner gives the ADI a score of 3 – the examiner is effectively saying that this is an area where the ADI does not need to do any further work, apart from continuously reflecting on their performance.

If they give a score of 2 – they are saying that the ADI’s performance is acceptable but there are clear areas where they could improve.

If they give a score of 1 – they are saying the ADI’s performance is not acceptable and the ADI needs to do a lot more work, even though they give evidence of knowing what they are supposed to be doing.


New Standards Check Grading

Driving instructors will be given one of the following grades after their standards check:

  • A grade (85% or over)    – an overall high standard of instruction
  • B grade (60% or over)    – a sufficient level of competence
  • Fail    (less than 60%)    – an unsatisfactory performance

It will also make it easier for learners and their parents to understand a driving instructor’s grade. They’ll then be able to make a more informed decision when choosing an instructor. DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) wants to keep working with the industry to help the top grade instructors promote the higher level of competence that they’ve worked hard to achieve.

You’ll get a score from 0 to 3 for each of the 17 areas of competence, see marking sheet SC 1

Score                 Description

3                        Keep up the good work

2                        Acceptable – there are clear areas of improvement

1                        Not acceptable – more work needed

0                        Completely unacceptable


Total score       Grade Description

0 to 30              Fail Your performance is unsatisfactory

31 to 42            Grade B You’ll be added to the register of ADIs or remain on it

43 to 51            Grade A You have shown a high standard of instruction and will be added to the register or remain on it


So, there you have it, it is just as tough on the day for the examiner as it is on the poor ADI, who’s SC it is.

On the day of my SC, all I need to do is deliver a normal lesson, I know I teach well, as no better proof of this is in the fact of the number of pupils who I have had pass their driving tests.

The poor SC examiner has a huge number of things to do, to make sure a test is delivered correctly.


Many thanks to Graham Campbell’s wealth of knowledge.


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